The Visual and Public Art (VPA) department of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in collaboration with the National Steinbeck Center of Salinas, California has undertaken a two-year project, African American Legacy on the Central Coast, that has included a series of exhibitions, special events and a conference.
This significant project focuses on the artistic and cultural contributions from the historic African American community, a celebration of Black arts and culture, and a conference on the African American presence in Early California. The core of this project is based on oral histories like the sample video presented here and the presentation of community narratives through the exhibitions, performances, and other community events.
For nearly fourteen years, the CSUMB Visual and Public Art Department has supported community-based arts activities that focus on making diverse communities more visible in our region through public art projects and exhibitions. It is our aim with this latest endeavor to bring greater understanding and appreciation of African American history, culture, and arts to the larger regional community something that has not been done on this large a scale in this community to date.
Exhibitions have been presented starting in May 2008 and continue to be developed through public gatherings of African American community members, selected interviews and archival research. The exhibitions have included include early California art works, community memorabilia, family and archival photos. This project has been partially supported by funding from the Reclamation Project funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.